Veteranclaims’s Blog

October 23, 2010

2 California National Guardsmen Commit Suicide in a Week

Full Article at: California National Guard Rocked by 2 Suicides in a Week

By Aaron Glantz on October 22, 2010 – 6:10 p.m. PDT

“The commanding general of the California Army National Guard sent a bulletin ordering immediate suicide prevention training to all his troops Friday.

The memo follows the deaths of two California Guardsmen within a week.

Marsino Salas, 22, had served 16 months in Iraq and Afghanistan. He took his own life last Friday after returning to Hanford in the Kings County, which lies just south of Fresno. At the time of his death, he was in a nursing assistant’s certificate program at San Joaquin Valley College.

The next day Jose Manuel Reyes, 25, killed himself in downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles County Coroner’s spokesperson Lt. Joe Bale said he died of a gunshot wound to the head. “He died on the sidewalk,” Bale said. “It was 4:42 in the afternoon.” Before enlisting in the the Guard, Reyes had served in the United States Navy, where he received the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, which is given to service members who have been deployed since the September 11 attacks.

Guard spokesman, Cpt. Jonathan Shiroma said he had been advised by the Guard’s legal department not to release the bulletin, but confirmed that Maj. Gen. John S. Harrel sent a “suicide prevention sustainment memoradum” Friday morning to “stress the importance of preventing suicides.”

The memo, Shiroma said, was sent out “to make this in forefront of the commanders.”

As a result of the bulletin, “all commanders on the company level and above will conduct suicide prevention training for every assigned soldier during the November drill period,” Shiroma said.

The high suicide rate among veterans and servicemembers has already emerged as a major issue for the military and the families and loved ones of military personnel.

An analysis of death certificates published last Sunday by the Bay Citizen showed that more than 1,000 California veterans under the age of 35 had died between 2005 and 2008, three times the number who had died in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.”

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